Dipak Misra during the 24th Foundation Day Function of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in New Delhi
|45th Chief Justice of India|
28 August 2017 – 2 October 2018
|Appointed by||Ram Nath Kovind|
|Preceded by||Jagdish Singh Khehar|
|Succeeded by||Ranjan Gogoi|
|Justice of the Supreme Court of India|
10 October 2011 – 27 August 2017
|Appointed by||Pratibha Patil|
|Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi|
24 May 2010 – 10 October 2011
|Preceded by||Ajit Prakash Shah|
|Succeeded by||D. Murugesan|
|Chief Justice of the High Court of Patna|
1 December 2009 – 23 May 2010
|Preceded by||Prafulla Kumar Mishra|
|Succeeded by||Rekha Manharlal Doshit|
|Born||3 October 1953|
|Relatives||Ranganath Misra (uncle)|
|Alma mater||Madhusudan Law College, Cuttack|
Justice Dipak Misra (born 3 October 1953) is an Indian jurist who served as the 45th Chief Justice of India from 28 August 2017 till 2 October 2018. He is also a former Chief Justice of the Patna and Delhi High Courts. He is the nephew of Justice Ranganath Misra, who was the 21st Chief Justice from 1990 to 1991. He succeeded J. S. Khehar, the 44th Chief Justice.
Misra enrolled at the Bar on 14 February 1977 and practiced at the Orissa High Court and the Service Tribunal. He was first appointed as an Additional Judge of the Orissa High Court in 1996. The following year, he was transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court, where he was made a Permanent Judge on 19 December 1997. In December 2009, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, serving until May 2010, when he was appointed Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. He was elevated to the Supreme Court on 10 October 2011.
Justice Misra had a tenure of thirteen months as chief justice at the Supreme Court after being appointed as the 45th Chief Justice of India on 28 August 2017 until mandatory retirement at 65 years of age, on 2 October 2018 and was succeeded by Ranjan Gogoi.
Justice Misra's judgment in the Own Motion vs State case, requiring Delhi Police to upload First Information Reports (FIR) on their website within 24 hours of the FIRs being lodged. This enables the accused to file appropriate applications before the court for redressal of their grievances.
In a case on Reservation in promotion, Justice Misra and Justice Dalveer Bhandari upheld the Allahabad High Court judgement that reservation in promotions can be provided only if there is sufficient data and evidence to justify the need. The bench rejected the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to provide reservation in promotion on the ground that it failed to furnish sufficient valid data.
Justice Misra led the bench which rejected the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon's appeal to stop his execution. He then received a death threat in writing, an anonymous letter which says "irrespective of the protection you may avail, we will eliminate you." In an unprecedented overnight hearing at 3:20 am on 30 July 2015, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Misra dismissed Yakub Memon's last-minute petition for a stay on his death warrant. The bench said: "if we have to stay the death warrant it would be a travesty of justice. We do not find any merit in the writ petition". Few hours later, Memon was hanged.
A three judge bench led by Justice Misra has upheld the death sentence awarded to the four convicts of the Nirbhaya rape case on 5 May 2017. Justice Misra authored the landmark judgement confirming the death penalty of four convicts in the brutal 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case which shook the nation and spurred the genesis of a stringent anti-rape law. In his verdict, Justice Misra termed the convicts as those who “found an object for enjoyment in her... for their gross, sadistic and beastly pleasures... for the devilish manner in which they played with her dignity and identity is humanly inconceivable”.
It was a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Misra that settled the 120 year old dispute over the Cauvery river, also called the Ganga of the South and considered to be the lifeline for Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The judgment laid down important principles to the effect that rivers are a national resource and not the property of any State and the sharing of waters must be on equitable basis and further placed the requirement of drinking water at the highest pedestal.
In a historic unanimous ruling on Section 377 IPC, while presiding over a Constitution Bench, Chief Justice Misra partially struck down Section 377 of IPC citing it to be irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary. Justice Misra observed quoting Goethe : “I am what I am, so take me as I am” and emphasised on the universal concepts of individuality, liberty and dignity of the individual, right to privacy, equality of rights and freedom of expression, and highlighted the constitutional principles of transformative constitutionalism and constitutional morality and the doctrines of progressive realisation and non-retrogression of rights.
Hailing the right to freedom of speech and expression while staying the ban on the movie “Padmavaat” by certain States, Justice Misra held that cinemas as an art form are an inseparable part of right to free speech and expression.
While upholding the marriage of Kerala Muslim convert girl Hadiya with Shafin Jahan in the Hadiya court case, he observed that the right to marry a person of one's choice is integral to right to life and liberty and further, choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality and sans it, the right of choice becomes a shadow.
In Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, deprecating honour killing and honour crimes, Justice Misra wrote that honour killing guillotines individual liberty and freedom of choice and that assertion of choice is an insegregable facet of liberty and dignity. He further wrote : “any kind of torture or torment or ill-treatment in the name of honour that tantamount to atrophy of choice of an individual relating to love and marriage by an assembly, whatsoever nomenclature it assumes, is illegal and cannot be allowed a moment of existence”. He also observed, “class honour, howsoever perceived, cannot smother the choice of an individual which he or she is entitled to enjoy under our compassionate Constitution.”
Justice Misra, in his judgment on mob vigilantism and lynching, condemned the horrendous acts of mobocracy and observed that it cannot be allowed to become the “new normal”. He stated that it has to be curbed with an iron hand and that no citizen can be allowed to take the law into his own hands or become law unto himself and further issued a slew of directions, including preventive, punitive and remedial measures, to deal with the crime.
He had upheld constitutionality of criminal defamation as a reasonable restriction on free speech under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution stating that reputation cannot be allowed to be sullied on the anvil of free speech which is not absolute.
He was also part of the Bench of the Supreme Court's seven senior-most judges who convicted then Calcutta High Court judge C. S. Karnan of contempt of court and sentenced him to six months' imprisonment.
Justice Misra was part of the bench that ordered playing of the National Anthem in the beginning of a film in theatres as mandatory, which requires the audience to stand up when it is played. Later, he modified the order to clarify with regard to differently abled people and further relaxed it while stating that if a cinema chose to play the National Anthem, people would have to stand up as a mark of honour and respect.
Justice Misra was part of the bench that ruled out Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code dealing with adultery. On 27 September 2018, Misra read the judgment that adultery will no longer be a criminal offence, but can serve as a reason for other civil issues, such as divorce.
He is hailed as a 'warrior of gender equality' as he led various constitutional benches which passed historic judgements that upheld equal rights for women and the LGBT community, like the scrapping of Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, legalising homosexuality by partially striking down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and allowing entry for women of menstruating age group into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
In 2016, retired IAF sergeant Jayanta Kumar Das discovered a CBI interim report of an investigation about public servants acquiring government land via fraudulent means, in which Dipak Misra was mentioned by name ('State vs Sri Deepak Mishra') in relation to a case in the district magistrate in Cuttack, in 1984. At the time of procuring the land, Misra had sworn in an affidavit that he was from a landless Brahmin family, though this was proven to be a lie and the lease was cancelled. However, when this was uncovered, Misra was a member of the higher judiciary, and was on his way to becoming the Chief Justice of India. No action was taken on the basis of this discovery. After Misra took the oath to become the CJI, a lawyer’s group called Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) approached the supreme court with a petition pointing to Misra's involvement in two cases where a former judge of the Orissa High Court promised to arrange favourable outcomes for the petitioners in a matter that came before the Supreme Court.
On 12 January 2018, four senior judges of the Supreme Court; Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph addressed a press conference criticizing Misra's style of administration and allocation of cases. However, people close to Misra refuted these allegations.Legal experts like Soli Sorabjee and Ujjwal Nikam said that this rebellion of the four judges against the Chief Justice of India is going to hurt the judiciary by eroding public faith in it.
On 23 April 2018, the petition was rejected by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, primarily on the basis that the complaints were about the internal administration and not misbehaviour, and that thus impeachment would seriously interfere with the constitutionally protected independence of the judiciary.
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I think all four judges should be impeached. They have no business to sit there and deliver verdicts anymore. This trade unionism is wrong. Democracy in danger is not for them to say. We have parliament, courts, police functioning.
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Jagdish Singh Khehar
| Chief Justice of India
28 August 2017 – 2 October 2018
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